Viking Navy Museum


Oseberg ship museum photo

This ship is a true work of art.

Six Man Viking Rowing Boat

Strakes of the Gokstad faering

A very clean small 21 foot boat.

Planks which have been made malleable by steaming or charring may then be forced into position in the boat and clamped there until they set on cooling - usually with some slight loss of curvature; thus it may be necessary to apply some force whilst they are being fastened where the required shape is especially curved as are the second strakes of the Gokstad faering (Fig 8.11) they may be set to cool against a mould of shaped wedges mounted at intervals on a flat board (McGrail 1974: 13).

Methods of bending planks to shape.

Softwoods used in northern European boatbuilding may be bent to the required shape by struts from roof and floor and by clamps (Christensen 1473: 142) - see Greenhill (1976: fig. 15) for a similar set-up in Bangladesh in the open air. Where moulds are used they may be used as a fulcrum around which to bend planking.

Fresh green hardwoods bend more readily than when seasoned and softwoods generally accept bending better than hardwoods. These less docile timbers may have to be heat-treated so that they become malleable. Light (but not heavy) frames and other transverse members may be similarly treated to impose a curvature or increase a natural curvature so that they take up the required inside form of the boat. Heat may be applied by heating timbers in a steam box (McGrail 1974: 8-9) or by charing them on one side while keeping the other side wet: for Britain see Leslie (1892: 47 52) for Pakistan Greenhill (1971: 75) and for Japan Greenhill (1959: 5-6). This charring method was known in the ancient Mediterranean: see V. Flaccus (Arg. 1. v. 124, as pointed out by Basch (1973: 332). Curves across the breadth of a plank (set) may be obtained from tangentially converted timber by heating the side nearest the pith whilst keeping the outerside wet thereby inducing warping along the growth rings (MeKee 1983: 53).

Oar pivot of the Gokstad faering

Smaller curved structures were also cut from naturally angled pieces of wood to ensure maximum strength. This modern replica of a thole or oar pivot was made from a log with a projecting branch and follows the curved grain of the 'crook'.

Three hole oar

There are three holes in this oar. The hole that does not show up in this scan is in the handle. I have never read any mention as to what use the Vikings had for these holes.

The Viking Navy on the other hand has put these hole to good use: The hole near the tip of the oar is used to put bending tension on the oar while the oar is being used like a water ski outrigger while sailing. This tension keeps the oar from vibrating. Also this tension is used to fine tune the position of the oar blade while under sail. The position of this hole so close to the tip has caused me to think that this oar has been worn down with use. Probable snow sailing. Thus the hole would have been maybe three times as far from the tip as it is now. The second hole is near the shoulder of the oar blade. The Viking Navy design uses this hole as the tie point for the oar sails. The tension on this hole is directly back along the length of the oar so the oar sail tie tension doesn't interfere with the fine tuning tension of the first hole. The third hole is near the fat part of the handle. The Viking Navy design uses this hole to tie the oar thru the hole in the center of the shield. The shield in this position is the brace that holds the oar out in the outrigger position.

Gotsberg handle

Oseberg Cart

From the book, The Viking Ships in Oslo, by Thorlief Sjøvold, Universitetets Oldsaksamling, Oslo.

Arby boat

A 12 foot Viking boat. I am building one like this, as of 1997.


Oseberg tapestry with a horned helmet

The Viking with the horned helmet is in the far upper left hand corner of the Oseberg Tapestry.

This picture is a reconstruction watercolour made by Oldsaksamlingens draughtswoman under instruction by professor Bjørn Hougen. The original is in bad shape.

This image is the only evidence that the Vikings ever wore horned helmets.

Ship under sail on a Gotland stone


The Mammen style is named after the designs on an axe found in the grave of a Danish Viking. On one side is a ragged pattern of tendrils, the other displays a human mask and a bird design (illustrated here). The bird's head is thrown back over its body and its outspread wings are of interlacing tendrils.

Rune Stone 743

Viking Ships with sails on Coins

coin with a viking ship on it

The sail boom is longer than the ship. There are no oar holes. The boat is only five shields long. The shields seem to have something around them. The stem and stern of the ship are very tall. The fish under the ship has the same cross hatching pattern as the sails of the ship.

coin of viking ship

The stem and stern are very tall. The sail is at half mast and tied up.There are no oar holes. The sail boom is longer than the ship.

The stem and stern are very tall. The sail is at half mast and tied up.There are no oar holes. The sail boom is longer than the ship.

Viking canoe on a coin

The sail shows up and down lines only. The sail boom is about as long as the ship. The ship boards show very large. If the number of boards is three, then this is a canoe sized Viking ship.

Viking Sheets and Lines

Shows lots of Vikings and lots of control lines. Sail boom is about the length of the ship.

Viking Ship on Stone

Sail is wider than ship is long. Very few control lines. Two long things sticking out of the back of the ship.

Stone of Large Vikings on small Ship

Sail is wider than the ship is long. Boat is small or men are large. Few control lines Cross hatching on sails is about the size of a mans head. Rudder is large. This may be a rather small ship. Say about four meters.

Viking Ships with sails on tools

Fishing Viking on tool

May be a very old style boat. Front is not rounded. Mast is very short or at an angle. Sail is much wider than the ship is long.

Viking ship at half mast on tool

It was this picture that gave me the idea for a boat cover for the whole Viking ship.

Large tail on a Viking Ship on a tool

Notice the ten oar holes. I have no idea what the five posts or lines are on deck.

Three carved figures on the Oseberg Viking Ship

These three figures look like tarts to me. Especially the one holding on to her ankles.

Stone 3888